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India’s Second Mission to Moon Gets Delayed Again

Meanwhile, Israel, which also plans to launch its lunar mission in February, is in contest with India to be the fourth nation to land a spacecraft on the Moon

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Moon
The Moon. Pixabay

India’s second Moon mission Chandrayaan-2 that was to be launched on Thursday with a lander and rover got delayed again, officials said on Thursday.

“The next launch date of Chandrayaan-2 has not been confirmed yet,” a spokesman of the state-run Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) told IANS here.

This is the second time the space agency deferred the mission launch after it was put off first time in October for unspecified reasons.

Though ISRO Chairman K. Sivan told the media here earlier that they planned to launch Chandrayaan-2 on January 3, reason for the delay has not been made public yet.

“The window to launch the Moon mission for landing on its surface is, however, open till March,” Sivan told reporters earlier.

The Rs 800-crore Chandrayaan-2 mission comes a decade after the maiden mission Chandrayaan-1 was launched on October 22, 2008 from the country’s only spaceport at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, 90 km northeast of Chennai.

The 3,890-kg Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft, to be launched onboard the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV) Mk-3, will orbit around the Moon to study its conditions and collect data of its topography, mineralogy and exosphere.

After reaching the 100-km lunar orbit, lander with rover will separate from the spacecraft and gradually descend to soft land on the Moon at a designated spot. The rover’s instruments will observe and study the lunar surface.

UAE, Moon
India’s second Moon mission gets delayed again. (VOA)

The lander has been named “Vikram” as a tribute to the pioneer of India’s space programme and former ISRO chairman (1963-71) Vikram Sarabhai.

India will be landing its rover on the Moon for the first time nearly 50 years after American astronaut Neil Armstrong stepped and walked on the eerie lunar surface on July 20, 1969 as part of Apollo-11 mission.

While Chandrayaan-1 reached the lunar orbit on November 8, 2008, its impact probe crashed onto the Moon on November 14, 2008. The 675-kg spacecraft was lost on August 29, 2009 after orbiting at 100 km away from its surface and mapping its chemical, mineralogical and photo-geologic properties for over nine months.

Of the 11 scientific instruments on board Chandrayaan-1 from six nations, including India, one of them from the US space agency NASA discovered the presence of water on the Moon for the first time.

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Incidentally, while India’s second voyage to Moon got delayed, China on early Thursday soft-landed its spacecraft Chang’e-4 on the far side of the lunar surface, which is away from facing earth.

When Chandrayaan-2’s rover lands on the Moon, India will be the fourth country in the world to achieve the feat after China in December 2013, the US in 1969 and then Soviet Union in 1959.

Meanwhile, Israel, which also plans to launch its lunar mission in February, is in contest with India to be the fourth nation to land a spacecraft on the Moon. (IANS)

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NASA: Sending Back Astronauts to Moon in 2024 Could Cost About $30 Billion

The entire project will be framed as a practice run for a future mission to Mars

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NASA, mars
NASA, which has dubbed its current lunar programme Artemis (after Apollo's twin sister, the Greek goddess of the hunt, the wilderness and the moon), plans to send one male and one female astronaut to the moon in 2024. VOA

Returning astronauts to the moon in 2024 could cost about $30 billion, or roughly the same price tag as the Apollo 11 spaceflight when factoring in inflation, NASA has said.

“For the whole programme, to get a sustainable presence on the moon, we’re looking at between $20 and $30 billion,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a TV interview on Friday, though noting that that figure does not include money already spent on the rocket and space capsule the agency plans to use for the programme, Efe news reported.

The total cost of the Apollo programme that the US launched in 1961 and concluded in 1972 was $25 billion. The climax of that programme came nearly 50 years ago when two astronauts landed on the moon as part of the Apollo 11 mission, which cost $6 billion at the time, equivalent to $30 billion today.

nasa, moon
Then one male astronaut and – for the first time – a female astronaut would set foot on the lunar surface in 2024. Pixabay

NASA, which has dubbed its current lunar programme Artemis (after Apollo’s twin sister, the Greek goddess of the hunt, the wilderness and the moon), plans to send one male and one female astronaut to the moon in 2024.

Bridenstine recalled that the main difference between the Apollo programme and the Artemis program is that the former culminated with brief stays on the moon while the latter will entail a permanent human presence there.

The plan will involve the recruitment of private companies and international partners, the construction of a lunar space station and manned landings at the moon’s south pole within five years.

NASA, moon
That rocket will send into orbit a new spacecraft known as Orion, whose lead contractor is Lockheed Martin. VOA

The entire project will be framed as a practice run for a future mission to Mars. The programme includes an unmanned mission around the moon in 2020 and a manned mission that also will orbit the moon two years later. Then one male astronaut and – for the first time – a female astronaut would set foot on the lunar surface in 2024.

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The three lunar missions will be delivered into space by the Space Launch System, a rocket being developed by NASA and Boeing that will be the largest ever built once it is fully assembled. That rocket will send into orbit a new spacecraft known as Orion, whose lead contractor is Lockheed Martin.

Besides these missions exclusively handled by NASA, five other launches will be carried out to place in lunar orbit the components for construction of the Gateway mini-space station, which will serve as a staging post for moon landings. Those five missions between 2022 and 2024 will be operated by private companies, according to NASA’s plans. (IANS)